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Doing more with less: Creating an online community for accepted students

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For SUNY CUAD & SUNY CAP conferences, June 10-11, 2009

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Doing more with less: Creating an online community for accepted students

  1. 1. Doing More with Less: Creating an online community for accepted students Rachel Reuben Director of Web Communication & Strategic Projects, SUNY New Paltz rachelreuben.com doteduguru.com @rachelreuben
  2. 2. we’re all feeling the budget crunch • travel/conference budgets slashed • departmental budgets slashed • programs cut • endowments falling
  3. 3. we’re all feeling the budget crunch • losing positions through attrition, retirements & non- renewals • temp service budgets cut • reducing print even more • relying on Web and electronic media even more
  4. 4. what can you do? • partner with other departments • share/pool resources • interns, existing student staff • OLs, RAs, student ambassadors, greeters, etc. • task variety • beware of job enlargement / workload creep
  5. 5. how social media can help • Personal attention • One-on-one and one-to-many conversations • Social proofing & viral marketing • Comfort level in their environment
  6. 6. how social media can help • Put personal face(s) to university • Build relationships & trust • listening - “grow bigger ears” http://is.gd/Nb8J • some free, most relatively cheap • reach more - targeted - with less
  7. 7. how social media *can’t* help • Not another bulletin board • Not a place to blow your horn • Not a place to jump up & down
  8. 8. another spoke in the wheel
  9. 9. online community for fall 2009 accepted students
  10. 10. what is Ning? • like Facebook • an online platform for users to create their own social Web sites and social networks • forums, videos, events, groups, personal profiles • ning.com • premium services / costs
  11. 11. admissions strategy • Accept ~4,400 students • Enroll ~1,100 students • Accept ~1,400 early action students • Maximize most highly selective students
  12. 12. admissions strategy • sticker on accept packet • invite students (upload file from Banner) • early action accepts Jan 1 - Feb. 21 • launched 1/2/09, invited 1,323 • all accepted students Feb. 21 - May 1 • invited 1,000 initially, then batches every 2 weeks • all transfer students mid-April - on
  13. 13. Café New Paltz: content • Baristas • Regular updates (videos with custom jingle) • Daily interaction, encouragement, conversation starters & joiners • “Café-shaped conversations” • personal, intellectual
  14. 14. Café New Paltz: results • Members: 690 • Paid PED: 52% • 70% from highest selectivity group • Photos: 1,168 • Videos: 22 • Forums: 93
  15. 15. Café New Paltz: additional benefits • free(-ish) marketing research • no overhead account management - all done through Banner export / Ning import • give them a place to talk & converse on “our turf” without intimidating them
  16. 16. Café New Paltz: costs • $24.95/month to remove ads ($149.70 for 6 months) • ~$50 for props • existing resources • 2 HD Sony video cameras • Flip Mino video camera • student interns
  17. 17. Café New Paltz: anecdotes “I must be going. I’m definitely going to login again though. This is an amazing resource.” “Yeah, this is a pretty great thing set up here.” “Yeah, I’ve never run across a school with something this helpful & people this nice before! It’s great!” “I am really liking Café New Paltz. It is making it a lot easier to adjust & I think between this & orientation we should be good. :)”
  18. 18. Café New Paltz: after May 1 • asked the community • pitched to Student Affairs • Orientation connection • new baristas • fall
  19. 19. what about Facebook? • groups vs. Pages • member management nightmare • lack of design customization
  20. 20. our secrets • answer questions promptly • join in the conversation, encourage interaction • show examples at group tours & general info sessions • include links in e-mail correspondence • bags • interact postcards, Web site
  21. 21. things to consider • loss of control • time commitment • information overload • anyone can create an “official” account for your university
  22. 22. measurement • ROI --> return on influence • long tail effect • Café New Paltz • yield more highly selective students • think outside the box - Ning limitations & programming • quality not quantity (# of fans/followers/subscribers)
  23. 23. ? ? questions Rachel Reuben reubenr@newpaltz.edu site: rachelreuben.com blog: doteduguru.com Twitter: @rachelreuben

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